BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) – Online privacy has become quite a hot topic these days, but what can we do to protect ourselves in a very connected world? Tech Tuesday offers exert advice on that topic.
The is what David Powell has to say about protecting your online privacy:
Ever since the information was leaked about the NSA collecting data from cellphones and popular internet sites, I’ve been asked many times “what can I do to protect my information”? Short of going off the grid and not using the internet or your cellphone, here are a few practical steps you can take to protect your information on the web: * You recommend private browsing windows? Yes, most of the major browsers offer a mode that neither loads or stores information about you on any sites. When you close the browser, all the information about your history just disappears. There are lots of good reasons to temporarily go off the grid—maybe you are searching for that anniversary trip location—and the sites have a way for to do that. Google Chrome calls this “Incognito” and in other browsers it is called “Private Browsing.” * What about using fake names? This is a great idea. Unless your real name is absolutely name—maybe applying for a job—there is no reason to provide it. Just put in John Doe or something. Also, you need to be careful with your login or username. Many people use the same username for everything. Create unique ones for different purposes and have a strong password. Also, there is no reason to use your main email for everything. Create a different one for sign-ups, retail and things like that. Microsoft’s free Outlook.com will allow you to create a temporary email for single use transactions. * What about preferences? Almost every app or service you use has a preferences or options menu. Go through each one and uncheck any box that makes you a little nervous. Maybe you want to turn off geotagging your pictures. You can always type in the location of the picture yourself. How much information you volunteer is often up to you. Setting those thresholds lower is a great practice. * These are good tips, but can we really make much of a difference? Not really. Let’s face it. We are willing, most of the time, to trade convenience for our privacy. We want to share information. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest…all these tools are for sharing, and that’s what we do. Typically, we don’t have to worry about someone “getting” our data, we freely put it out there. So, while there is plenty to be concerned about with the recent NSA information, unless we are willing to shut down our Facebook site, stop Googling things and never Tweeting again, we are going to accept a certain amount of snooping—whether by the company or by the government.So, take reasonable precautions, but this sharing information culture is really the one we live in now.